Mum guilt: Working your way through the summer holidays
By: Claire, redwigwam
Ah. The summer holidays. 6 long weeks of being #soblessed and #makingmemories with your children.
Picnics in the park. Playdates with friends. Theme parks. The beach.
If your Instagram is anything like mine, it is currently crammed is full of happy families, learning to bodyboard, kids’ mouths covered in ice cream, having wonderful days out.
Spending #qualitytime together.
Living the dream.
And then there’s my kids.
Husband and I both work full time. So, they are in holiday clubs for most of the holidays. And seem to be having FAR too much screen time on the days they aren’t.
The mum-guilt is real.
But I know I’m not the only one. Working families all over the UK are struggling to balance childcare and family life, especially over the summer break.
How do you survive the summer holidays when you’re working?
I’m not expert – muddling my way through this like most people – but here’s some tips on how we do it…
Remember: What you see online is just a snippet of someone's life
Your grid is undoubtably chock full of other people enjoying endless days out in the sunshine.
But remember, people only share what they want you to see. They really aren’t cherishing EVERY moment. Other kids are also having too much screen time, endless arguments and looooooong days at home.
It’s all about perspective.
Make the most of the time you do have
I don’t mean rushing off to a theme park after work. But we do try to put down our devices and spend a bit of time together. Play a board game. Go for an evening walk. Toast marshmallows on the barbecue.
That said, we did enjoy an amazing evening on the beach last week. The weather was beautiful, so we headed out at half four with some friends, and didn’t get home until way, way past everyone’s bedtime.
It felt like we’d had a whole day out.
Take time for you
This is important. In the summer holidays, it can feel even more impossible than usual to have any down time at all.
But you need to recharge too.
It doesn’t have to be much. For me, it means making sure everyone is packed off to bed so I can watch Love Island in peace. And I also make sure I take a lunch break and go for a walk or a run every day.
Flex it up
Now I appreciate this isn’t possible for everyone, but I am incredibly lucky to work for redwigwam where flexibility is everything. So, I log on early and get a couple of hours in first thing – meaning when the kids come home from holiday club, I can switch work off.
We’re also still working from home, so I don’t have to factor in a daily commute, which gives me valuable time back every week.
Have a chat with your manager and see if there is any scope for tweaking your working hours at the moment. Just a couple of early mornings or later nights can earn you back some valuable family – or me – time.
Book some time off and PLAN
It might seem obvious, but we both plan our annual leave around school holidays so we can minimise the amount of childcare we have to pay for.
But we always book a week off together at the end of the summer to enjoy some time as a family. It does mean we end up spending extra on childcare, but for us, it’s worth it.
We have a holiday planner stuck up on the wall, so everyone can see who is where each day. And we meal plan too, so we know what we’re eating and who is cooking!
For the days the kids are here and we’re both working, we have set times for screens, so they know when they are allowed their devices and means they don’t ask every 3 minutes. But we also relax the rules a bit and allow more than usual.
We’re not going away this year, so do have some fun days out planned for our time off at the end of August – plus days with grandparents and friends too.
So, take some deep breaths, relax and enjoy the time you do have.
Just for perspective, I asked my kids (both aged 7) what the best thing they have done so far this summer.
Their answers? Eat our breakfast down every day (usually we have a rule where meals are eaten at the table, but in the holidays, we let them have it in front of the TV!) and ‘when we went to the skate park’.
(The skate part is 3 minutes from our house, and we didn’t even take their bikes. They rolled 2ps down the ramps).
Like I say, it’s all about perspective.